Arion Lyre

74. A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, with art by R. B. Kitaj

A Coney Island of the Mind, poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti with portraiture by R. B. Kitaj, 2005.

Book CoverIn 1958 a collection of poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti appeared under the title A Coney Island of the Mind, published by New Directions. The book immediately found a large audience, drawn to the poetry for its refreshing liberality, unconventionality, and humor. It continues to be the most popular book of poetry in the United States. The poems have been translated into nine languages, and more than a million copies are in print. The title of the book is taken from Henry Miller's Into the Night Life. As Ferlinghetti has written: "It is used out of context but expresses the way I felt about these poems when I wrote them - as if they were, taken together, a kind of Coney Island of the mind, a kind of circus of the soul." Arion Press presents in this special edition the first section of that book, the sequence of twenty-nine poems called "A Coney Island of the Mind". The artist R. B. Kitaj has made two drawings in charcoal on handmade paper, one a portrait of the poet in profile that serves as the frontispiece, the other a portrayal of the poet on a plummeting rollercoaster, his hair and beard flying, observed by an all-seeing eye, that is printed on the cover. These affectionate tributes by Kitaj join the Arion Press in honoring Lawrence Ferlinghetti with a definitive setting of his most famous poems. More about the poet and the artist.


Title Page SpreadA Coney Island of the Mind is the seventy-fourth publication of the Arion Press. The book was designed and produced under the direction of Andrew Hoyem. The format is folio, 16 by 10 inches, 48 pages. The types are handset Goudy Light and Goudy Heavy. The text was printed by letterpress. The prints were scanned from the original drawings and printed on an Epson 4000. The paper is mouldmade Hahnemühle Bugra, its color and texture similar to the handmade paper of Kitaj's drawings. The book is handsewn over tapes and bound in boards with brown cloth spine and paper sides, and is housed in a slipcase. The layout of the pages is generous for the presentation of the poetry. The scale of the pages and care in hand composition has allowed for refinements to the typography and placement of lines in Ferlinghetti's "open field" style. With the cooperation of the poet Arion Press has achieved a distinct improvement to the text over the restrictive settings found in the trade editions.

text spreadIn accord with the title and the aesthetics of the poetry and the artworks, the design of the book is purposely and playfully disorienting. The titling on the sides of the slipcase curves like a rollercoaster. On the cover, the author's name and the image by Kitaj are rotated so that the book must be turned sideways to be seen as intended. Similarly, the title on the title page runs up, and is on the left while the frontispiece is on the right, the profile facing the title page, in contravention of the bibliographical convention of title/recto, frontis/verso. The poems are not titled but are numbered in bold figures, turned ninety degrees at the corners. When a poem continues onto a second page there is no number. Thus, since these are not page numbers, some numbers on versos are odd and some on rectos are even, again the opposite of what might be expected bibliographically. The physical book pays homage to the durability of the poetry and the poet, a grand old man of conscience for this world.


The edition is limited to three hundred numbered copies for sale and twenty-six lettered copies for complimentary distribution. All copies are signed by the poet and the artist. The price is $650.00. Available

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Edition: The book is folio in format, 16 x 10 inches, 48 pages. Binding: handsewn over tapes with brown cloth spine and paper sides, in slipcase. The edition is limited to 300 numbered copies for sale. Price: $650.

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